When traveling on business, it can be hard to keep your expenses in check. Whether it’s paying for an expensive flight for a sudden meeting out of town, renting a car or hotel room, or taking clients out for happy hour, the bills can add up—leaving you with an empty wallet.
Never fear, however, because there are many ways to reduce costs on business trips. Here are 12 tips that will help you keep expenses down.
1) Book Your Flight Far in Advance
Try to plan out-of-town meetings as far in advance as possible. You could even search for flights around cheaper times of the week, month or year, and plan meetings around them. When you can be flexible with your airfare search, you’re much more likely to find inexpensive flights that won’t break the bank.
2) Sign Up for Airfare Alerts
Airfare alerts provide a convenient way to always be notified of the most affordable plane tickets. Sign up for alerts on a site like Airfarewatchdog, input your specific dates, home location and specific destination cities, and when a cheap flight pops up, they will send you an email alerting you of the opportunity. This works especially well when you know the specific city in which your business trip is planned, providing you with prices that are much lower than normal.
3) Try the Less-Popular Airlines
While airlines like Spirit JetBlue may be among the most hated airlines in the United States, the savings they offer on plane tickets may be worth the trouble. These budget airlines offer cheaper base prices, however, they charge for pretty much anything else they can, such as a carry-on or seat choice, for instance. Always read the fine print when choosing a budget airline, because they may throw in some hidden fees or extra expenses that could surprise you.
4) Only Take a Carry-On Bag
Most airlines charge $25-$50 per person for checked baggage. You can skip this fee (and the checked baggage line) by being smart about what you bring. With only a carry-on, like a backpack or small suitcase, you can bring the essentials without the extra charges. Some airlines also let you bring a “personal item” in addition to a carry-on. For example, Delta Air Lines lets you bring a carry-on bag of up to 22 x 14 x 9 inches, and a personal item such as a briefcase, large purse, laptop.
5) Avoid the Airport Parking Lot
If you’re traveling for business, it’s best not to park your car at the airport lot, even for a few days. Instead, take an Uber or taxi and leave the car at home. Or, you can check the website AirportParkingReservations.com which provides discounted parking sites near the airport that can save you up to 70 percent compared to the airport parking lot.
6) Check Out Airfare/Rental Car Packages
If you have to rent a car on your business trip, there are many travel sites out there that provide airfare and rental car packages that may help you save some money. For example, Expedia gives you options for buying a ticket and a rental car bundle that can reduce costs when compared to purchasing each individually. However, always check airfare and rental car prices separately to make sure that the prices are right.
7) Book a Hotel That Provides an Airport Shuttle
Many hotels, especially near busy airports, will offer a free shuttle to and from the airport, which can save you money on a taxi ride or car rental. Check out a site like Taxi Calculator to find average rates for taxis serving the destination city. If it’s expensive, search around for the appropriate accommodations and see which ones offer a free shuttle to and from the airport.
8) Use Uber or Lyft Rather than a Taxi
In many cases, Uber or Lyft is more affordable than a taxi, especially on longer trips. However, because of surge pricing and other factors like weather and traffic, sometimes a taxi is a better option. Several apps and websites can help you figure out whether you’ll be better off taking an Uber or a taxi, including RideGuru and WhatsTheFare – visit these sites and find the deal that’s right for you and your budget.
9) Check Coupon Websites
Coupon websites will provide you with discounts you may have otherwise missed. Always check around for deals, using sites like Hotel Coupons, OneTravel or Groupon to see if there are any relevant coupons that can help you score a lower price on anything from hotels to rental cars to airfare.
10) Keep Eating Out to a Minimum
While it’s always fun absorbing the culture and food that comes with it in a new town, eating out for every meal can really put a dent in your wallet. To lower your meal budget, find a local grocery store or convenience shop that provides more affordable food options. Stock up on prepared sandwiches, salads, snacks and fruits to keep hunger at bay and expenses down. Overall, you can keep food expenditures down to $10-$20 a day if you plan it right. In addition, take advantage of the hotel’s continental breakfast offering. Load up in the morning to keep you satisfied throughout the day.
11) Use Tax Write-Offs to Your Advantage
When traveling for business, you can deduct most, if not all the expenses associated with getting to your destination. However, if the primary purpose of the trip is a personal one, even if you conduct a little business while you’re there, you can only deduct some of those expenses. Just remember that no matter what you spend, keep a detailed record of what was for business and what was for pleasure – that way you can deduct the appropriate amount and save on your tax bill.
There are also ways to deduct expenses associated with meals, entertainment and rental car and hotel – visit this section on the IRS website to find out more.
12) Obtain Your Private Pilot License and Fly Yourself!
With a private pilot license, you can rent (or buy) an aircraft and fly yourself to your intended destination. While you may be on the hook for rental rates and fuel, you will no longer be tied to the expenses that come with using airlines, rental cars and hotels. When you think of it in terms of opportunity cost, you’re bound to save a bundle. With the time it takes to get through security lines, flight delays, checking into the hotel, waiting in the rental car line, you could get a whole day’s work done.
Want to Say Goodbye to the Hassle of Airlines?
Get in touch with the certified flight instructors at Inflight Pilot Training today and take control of your travel itinerary. With our premier flight training services, our team will help you obtain your pilot’s license so you can make every business trip an effective, affordable one.
For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.